IOA upbeat on Indian online market scenario

MUMBAI: The Internet and Online Association's (IOA) conclave titled - 'Internet Nirvana! AHAA!' kickstarted at the Hilton Towers in Mumbai on 1 October. The keynote address was given by founder, CEO and chairman Ajit Balakrishnan, who started on an upbeat note saying that India was on the cusp of dramatic online user base growth as there had been a 40 - 50 per cent growth in Internet user base in the last one year.



Balakrishnan, giving credit to BSNL for the growth of Internet broadband in the last couple of months, said that in the last three weeks or so, the cost of broadband had gone down from Rs 850 to as low as Rs 250. This in turn has formed a 'virtuous' cycle as more people spend more time online, which, in turn makes online access cheaper and hence more people spend more time online, which in turn means that online access would become more economical and content offering... and so on.



Indian decision makers basically fall under the age group of 20 - 29 and the online medium reaches this particular age group more than the traditional means of advertising like television, print or outdoor. Hence more and more advertisers were looking to target this age group with the Internet medium.



The day's eminent panel of speakers comprised McCann Erickson president Santosh Desai, Double Click international product director Ramesh Kannan, Real Media UK technology solutions director Murly Tiwari, GroupM chairman South Asia Andre Nair and Intel Technology Pvt Ltd director marketing South Asia Jayant Murty. The conclave also saw two really interesting panel discussions, the first of which was moderated by MD and CEO Neeraj Roy. The panel comprised ICICI Bank head of NRI business P Gopakumar, Starcom MD India - West and South Ravi Kiran, Apna Loan CEO Harsh Roongta, Mediaturf Worldwide national creative director Raja Ray, Lodestar president Shashi Sinha and Real Media UK technology solutions director Murly Tiwari. This panel discussion was titled - 'Have your cake and eat it too? Branding versus direct response.'

The second panel discussion addressed one of the most important issues that worry marketers while they put their monies on the medium of Internet for advertising. This session, moderated by Mediaturf CEO and IOA chairman V Ramani, had panelists like IRCTC group general manager - IT services Amitabh Pandey, MD Avnish Bajaj, Citibank vice president and head (Internet, mobile and E-commerce) Sriram Jagannathan, Grey Interactive's Sudhir Nair, Thomas Cook India Ltd MD and CEO Ashwini Kakkar and Double Click international product director Ramesh Kannan, who debated on the different ways and means to measure return on investment (ROI) of Online Advertising.

Commenting on the need for an advertising conclave IOA president Preeti Desai said, "Online advertising is dramatically underleveraged and marketers are missing a huge strategic opportunity. IOAC aims at convincing large traditional advertisers to spend a larger portion of their media budgets, online. Current advertisers who are using the Internet as a medium of communication and marketing are spending at an average only two per cent of their entire media spend, online. IOAC has been programmed to deliver key answers to marketers, advertisers and agencies focusing on harnessing the interactive reach represented by 22 million users online, 60 per cent of which, are in the 20 - 40 years age group with maximum spending power."

Ramani, on the other hand said, "This is the right time for IOA to be commencing its activities with a conclave like this. The market suffers from huge amounts of ignorance of how best to use this medium for advertising and marketing products and services. The eyeballs on the medium are catching large momentum. Suddenly, this combination of not knowing what to do in a suddenly 'must have' medium, gives rise to panic. The IOAC is there just to address this gnawing concern."

An interesting day that saw some healthy debates and provided valuable insights with staggering figures regarding the online medium in India and worldwide.

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